What started off as a self-made pitch *no pun intended* to a New York Yankees scout during a trip to Barranquilla ended up becoming a full-throttled passion project for Nicole Fernandez. The Miamian has helped make the sports dreams of more than 800 little leaguers come true through the not-for-profit foundation she created called Game Time Foundation. The organization donates baseball, softball and soccer equipment to underprivileged children and teens in Colombia. As Founder and President of Game Time, along with a career in sports journalism this Latina wears a ton of hats (and a crown as former Carnaval de Barranquilla queen). Yet she still found time to chat with ‘LLERO to share the ups, downs and incredible journey of this endeavor.
‘LL: How did you get into the world of sports?
Nicole: I’ve always loved sports since I was young. My dad and uncle always played soccer and as a little girl I would go to baseball games. I love how each athlete has a story of how they got there and even if they haven’t made it to big success, they still give a life to that sport. Sports doesn’t discriminate [based] on religion, race or language, sports unites people.
‘LL: What led you into journalism and the mix of the two?
Nicole: When I was a junior at Florida International University School of Communication and Journalism, for class projects other girls would cover fashion and I would do sports. I also reported and hosted for Generation Nexxt, a local Florida youth sports network where I profiled up and coming football players. But, I’m equally passionate about both, and I still get excited. Even recently when I reported at the World Baseball Classic baseball tournament, I saw how journalism was connecting people and I loved watching the players bring both together.
‘LL: Tell us about your passion project, Game Time Foundation.
Nicole: In January 2014, I travelled to Barranquilla, Colombia to interview a Yankee scout who was also a baseball coach for little kids. I came in with my sister as my assistant and my camera, and we met this little boy who loved his coach sooo much and I saw [that] spark. I heard the passion the children had for their coach and the game, and when I got back home I started a GoFundMe account, received donations and created Game Time Foundation. I really liked what I was doing [prior], but now I loved something more.
‘LL: What is the mission of Game Time Foundation?
Nicole: I see how sports can help people go from nothing to something given the opportunity, so Game Time helps raise money to provide underprivileged kids in Colombia with sports equipment and programs. I always wanted to help my parent’s country of Colombia and thought why not help these people and their children and sports journalism showed me how. Donations come from friends, college baseball teams, local baseball batting cages and high schools, and everything I donate is for a team and that teaches the kids to share. We live in a world where it’s fine to work and do better for yourself, but why not work for yourself doing something to help others.
More on the future of Nicole and Game Time after the jump…